The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Asp (Schooner), aground, 11 Oct 1820

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Wreck of the Schooner ASP
We learn that during the dreadful gale of the 11th. inst the s Shipwreck. - The schooner Asp, commanded by Capt. Prosser, of Niagara, was capsized in a gale, the 11th inst. on the Lake, off Long Point on the Canada side and drifted on the bar at Salmon River. The vessel had eleven persons on board, mostly passengers - their names unknown to us. It was freighted with lumber, and bound for Kingston.
It is supposed that the captain was imprudent, in pressing too much sail at the time the accident occurred, which was undoubtedly the means of serious consequences. The vessel was upset! A melancholy scene immediately presented itself to the unfortunate victims of a watery grave! The affrighted persons flew to the cabin, and were almost instantly overwhelmed by the dashing of the waves. The captain was washed overboard and drowned; his body was found buried in the sand on shore. But two of the persons on board, a lady and gentleman, were saved alive.
We have not learned all the particulars concerning this disastrous event.
      Oswego Palladium
      Thursday, October 19, 1820

      . . . . .

      We learn that during the dreadful gale of the 11th. inst the schooner ASP, from Niagara, laden with staves, was driven ashore and wrecked in Mexico Bay, near Oswego, and that of the eleven persons on board, only two succeeded in reaching the shore. Two or three American vessels were also stranded at the same time, but without the loss of any lives.
      (extract of a letter, dated Cobourg the 12th. inst)
      Kingston Chronicle
      October 20, 1820


      from the Niagara Argus & Spectator
(extract of a letter from the Coroner of Rickland U.S. to Thomas Racey of Niagara, owner of the schooner )
Dear Sir--The schooner ASP commanded by Capt. Prossey, was wrecked near the mouth of Salmon River at this place, on Thursday morning last. All on board perished except one seaman named James Young, and a lady, (a passenger) about 24 years of age, from whom I learnt the vessel belongs to you. An inquest was held on the bodies found (7 in number) before me, as Coroner of this County: and by a law of this State, it becomes my duty to take possession of the wreck, which I found in a most deplorable condition, Her masts and spars hung by the rigging around her sides---her deck completely swept of everything, her hull split nearly from stem to stern---the planks off her sides in many places---the cabin completely broke. In fact the vessel is worth no more than her irons. I have saved the greater part of the rigging, with the anchor and cable. The sails are torn to pieces and are of no manner of use. The staves that were in the hold have been got on shore and secured in a convienient place for re-loading on any other vessel; and the principle part of her deck freight has been picked up along the shore---about $20 in money has been found in the captain's pockets, also his watch, his trunk, which was washed out of the cabin before the vessel went ashore, and almost everything else.
From what I can learn, the vessel on Wednesday, sprung a leak and nearly filled, then capsized and lay on her beam ends, until she twisted off her masts and then righted, during this time a gentleman, his wife and daughter, were drowned in the cabin, and a young man was washed from the deck soon after she righted. The vessel at this time lay off Long Point, about 20 miles from the Ducks, the sea making a complete breach over her during the night. Five persons perished on deck. The Captain died about day-break, and was washed off the deck after the vessel struck shore, she drifted on to shore about 10 A.M. The dead were decently interred. The litle girl and the young man who were washed off the deck have not yet been found.
I believe that everything has been done for the benefit of the owners, and the comfort of the survivors.
      Kingston Chronicle
      November 3, 1820

      . . . . .


      (Written to the tune "The Cruel Mother-in-Law")
      Composed on the Ship-wreck of the Schooner ASP,
Driven on the Bar, near the Mouth of Salmon River, (L. Ontario) - 12th Oct, 1820

1. From Queenstown we set sail,
      With merry hearfs;
      'Twas with a pleasant gale
      We then did start;
      For Kingston we did steer,
      Had nothing then to fear,
      Our hearts it then would cheer
      To gain that port.

2. We had not sailed long,
      In this our pride -
      There'll be a dreadful storm,
      The Captain cri'd: -
      And we our sails must reef,
      To save us from the deep;
      If we expect relief,
      Our deck must be clear.

3. The winds began to blow,
      The swell did arise,
      Which fill'd each heart with wo
      And great surprise;
      Soon death will be our fate,
      And shocking to relate -
      Now of our future state,
      God only knows.

4. Our vessel springs a leak,
      While on the swell;
      Such horrour does bespeak,
      As none can tell: -
      Such crying in distress,
      As no one can express -
      Each one did then address,
      The Throne of Grace.

5 With sorrow we relate,
      Three of them fell,
      All victims to the fate,
      While on the swell: -
A husband and his wife,
And child deprived of life,
Have left a world of strife,
      And friends to mourn.

6 For death let us prepare,
      Said Henry Wales,
      For this will be our share,
      And without fail
      Our vessel will capsize,
      And we shall lose our lives;
      And these were still our cries,
      Lord save our souls.

7 Then to our great surprise,
      As we did ride,
      The vessel did capsize,
      Down on her side;
      And then she righted up,
      To face the storm.

8 And thus, in solemn prayer;
      Young Wales did speak;
      Lord, let us be thy care,
      While on this wreck -
      And guide us safe to port,
      Into the holy court,
      Where mercy reigns.

9 Farewell my parents dear,
      He then did say;
      For me shed not a tear,
      Though long I stay; -
      For I shall be at peace,
      Where all my troubles cease;
In a better world than this,
      At God's right hand.

10 Farewell my sister too,
      For me don't mourn;
      I bid you both adieu,
      Ne'er to return; -
      But may we meet again,
      Where we with Christ shall reign,
      To praise God's holy name
      In worlds above.

11 Of Wales, this was his last,
      That we did hear;
      Into the lake was cast,
      As doth appear: -
      Jane Gibson he did save,
      Twice from the raging wave,
      And in a watery grave,
      Himself was lost.

12 And all one stormy night,
      No help could find;
      We drove till morning light
      By chilly winds: -
      The Captain did reply,
      I feel I must die,
      And heav'd a parting sigh
      And left the world.

13 Two of eleven left,
      Who did arrive -
      Were found upon the wreck,
      But just alive: -
      Jane Gibson and James Young.
      Outrode the raging storm;
      Assistance then did come,
      To their relief.

14 Six men with courage bold,
      Their lives did risk,
      To save them from the main,
      Three times they tried in vain,
      And then return'd again,
      And took them off.

15 By Salmon river's side,
      Those drowned lie -
      Besmear'd with sand and blood,
      W**d can't deny; -
      No sermon, nor a prayer,
      From W**d, who had the care,
      The truth we do declare,
      To his disgrace.

16 Come all you young and old,
      Who sail the lake,
      Seek mercy for your souls,
      Before too late; -
      Repent, is the command,
      As we do understand,
      To all sea or land,
      Or sink to woe.

      . . . . .
      Liverpool, (Onondago County) N. Y. Oct. 16
      DISTRESSING SHIPWRECK--A Gentleman who arrived at this place yesterday from Salmon River, gives the following account of the loss of the British schooner ASP, of Fort George,(Newark) Captain Prossey, from Newark bound to Kingston. At day-break on Thursday morning last, blowing a gale from the N.W. a vessel was descried in the offing from the mouth of the Salmon River. At 8 o'clock she had driven in on the bar, and appeared to be a schooner with both masts alongside. A man was seen standing at her night-head, making some feeble signals of distress. We immediately manned a boat from the river, and several attempts were made to gain the wreck, but all in vain, the sea breaking over her in the most frightful manner. At 1 o'clock, the wind in some manner abated, we succeeded in boarding the wreck, and brought off James Young, seaman, and Miss Jane Gibson, an Irish lady, passenger, the only two survivors out of 11 souls who left Fort George on monday morning last. The lady was found lashed to the windlass, much bruised and in a state of insensibility. Young was apparently in a state of great exhaustion, kneeling by the hause hole with a turn of cable around his waist. He had a finger broken on one hand, and a thumb on the other, and was otherwise much bruised. Young was a seaman, 35 years of age. The lady was returning from Queenston, U.C. to Quebec, on her way to Ireland--a gold watch which she carried in her bosom, the only article she had saved, the cabin being washed open, and dead lights stove in by the sea. All the passengers baggage is supposed to have been lost. She states that she is 24 years of age--that she had been on a visit to her brother at Queenston, who died in May last--that there were several other passengers on board, five of whom, including a man, wife, and child, died in the cabin before the schooner righted. She gives the following account of the loss of the vessel:- Left Newark on Monday morning, with light breezes and pleasant weather. Monday night, light air and calm--on Tuesday morning at sun-rise, a small cloud was seen in the N.W. The Captain said we should have a squall, and ordered the sails reefed--at half past 8 o'clock the squall commenced, with such violence we were obliged to lay to, and did not bear away until Wednesday morning about 8 o'clock, when it supposed the gale was over--in less than two hours it commenced to blow again, with redoubled violence-- Hove to, and continued to lie by until we capsized. Before noon the schooner had sprung a leak---the leak continued to gain on the pumps until the staves were all afloat in the hold.
      About 12 o'clock, P.M. the cabin bulkhead started, and the staves floated into the cabin. At 3 o'clock A.M., the vessel being completely waterlogged, fell over on her beam-ends--the lanyards were soon cut away, and she righted with the loss of her masts--the captain continued at the helm, until back water rendered it useless--he then observed, the windlass was then all that could save us. And all that were on deck immediately crowded around it; but the cold fresh water broke over us continually; death soon began to thin our numbers. Capt. Prossey was the last to die; about 5 o'clock he said he was numb and must die--he soon after observed that land was in sight, which were the last works he spoke. he was in every respect, as far as I am capable of judging, an active, skillfull- seaman, and a valuable young man.--he was married only the week before, to a young lady in the neighborhood of Fort Erie.
John McCollum, John Enock, passengers lost; a man, wife and child, names not known, one passenger, name not known; Capt. Prossey, ---- Oliver, seaman Cook, names not known. The dead bodies, nine in number, were all found in and about the wreck, and have been decently interred at the mouth of the Salmon River.
      Cleveland Weekly Herald
      Tuesday, November 14, 1820

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: aground
Lives: 9
Freight: staves
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 43.51896 Longitude: -76.2991
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Asp (Schooner), aground, 11 Oct 1820